“Our audience, which is primarily the ECU student body, should have access to unedited and factual photos of the streaking incident.” — East Carolinian editor
A newspaper adviser was fired on Wednesday, and he’s pretty sure it’s because of these photos.
They ran in the East Carolina University student newspaper last November, and administrators at the Greenville, NC school made it clear then they were miffed about the images.
We will be having conversations with those who were involved in this decision in an effort to make it a learning experience. The goal will be to further the students’ understanding that with the freedom of the press comes a certain level of responsibility about what is appropriate and effective in order to get their message across.
On Wednesday, East Carolinian adviser Paul Isom was met in his office by the university’s HR person and marketing/communications director. They gave him four hours to clean out his space and leave the campus, where he’s worked since 2008. From Wednesday’s Student Press Law Center story:
“They said that I would get severance and my final paycheck at the end of the month,” Isom said.
Isom said he received no explanation other than that they “wanted to move in a different direction.” …
Isom, now unemployed, said he initially felt stunned and disappointed and is now unsure what the future holds.
“It’s mixed, it’s a little scary. How am I going to earn a living? Right at this moment, I don’t know.”
Isom tells splc.org that he’s considering a lawsuit against the university.
If I was not willing to stand up for a First Amendment issue, then I wouldn’t have been advising them the way that I was advising them. I would have told them, ‘Yeah, don’t run any controversial pictures, don’t make anybody mad.
He writes on his Facebook page: If anyone wants to register a complain to those responsible: vice chancellor for student affairs Virginia Hardy: firstname.lastname@example.org or director of marketing and communication Chris Stansbury: email@example.com. And yes, you read that right. I reported to a marketing director. That’s just one of the problems at ECU.”
ISOM TELLS ME IN EMAIL:
A few months before the streaker photos, the students published a column that got an equal amount of negative reaction that many considered misogynistic. [Here is the column and the letter to readers that followed.] I received no feedback whatsoever from administrators on that one. When they ran the streaker photos, it was a different story and yes, I immediately felt my job might be in jeopardy. I was asked by the vice chancellor for student affairs to delete the photos from the web and told her as politely as possible, if we do that this will go from being a controversy that will die in a few days to a slam dunk First Amendment issue that will drag on for years. I stressed I advise the paper with the best interest of the university in mind.
At the end of a meeting that included me, the editorial staff and several administrators, the vice chancellor said “there will be consequences.” There were none until today.
All that said, this still came as a surprise. As time passed, I (wrongly) assumed it had blown over. When I asked my direct supervisor if there had been any more discussions among higher-level admins about the issue, he said there hadn’t been. So when these two administrators showed up in my office unannounced, I was certainly surprised.
* East Carolina fires adviser in wake of streaker controversy
* Nov. 8: Streaker takes the field at football game
* Nov. 6: Streaker to appear in court (warning: annoying audio ad)
* Nov. 8: “The editor of the paper makes all editorial decisions,” says Isom